EMSB launches bilingual campaign to bolster enrolment

The English Montreal School Board has adopted the slogan "Être Bilingue, c'est gagnant" to show parents that ensuring their child's bilingualism is a top priority.

School board hopes to highlight bilingual offerings with 'Être Bilingue, c'est gagnant' campaign

Parents who spoke with CBC worried their children would not receive a fully bilingual education regardless of the dominant language of their school board. (CBC)

The English Montreal School Board has launched a campaign to try and reassure parents their child's bilingualism is a top priority.

The board is highlighting the strength of its French instruction with a new slogan, "Être bilingue, c'est gagnant," which translates to "Being bilingual is beneficial."

The campaign amid years of declining enrolment.

The announcement was made today at Pierre-de-Coubertin Elementary School in Saint-Leonard.

EMSB chair Angela Mancini said the new campaign is aimed at any parents who are eligible to send their children to an English school.​

Eligibility is granted to:

  • Children whose parents did the majority of their studies in English in Canada.
  • Children who have done the majority of their studies in English in Canada.
  • Children whose sibling has done the majority of their studies in English in Canada.

Parents struggle to ensure bilingualism

On CBC Montreal's Radio Noon talk show, Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette, the principal of Royal Vale School, said that after teaching French immersion in British Columbia she noticed that when parents don't support learning outside of school, it's more difficult for children to retain that new information.

"Parents do also have a responsibility to help make students bilingual," she said.

Callers to the show said that a fully bilingual curriculum is something they struggle to find.

Lyane Amyot from Vaudreuil said she couldn't put her kids in English school because she comes from Ontario.

She said she doesn't think the French school her children are enrolled in is preparing them for bilingual environments.

"We find the English quality in the French school is not adequate for them to work in that environment," Amyot said.

The EMSB is highlighting the strength of its French instruction with a new slogan, "Être bilingue, c'est gagnant," which translates to "Being bilingual is beneficial." (Getty Images)

John Watson from the South Shore said bilingualism isn't just about school-based learning but how parents support bilingual integration.

"I went through the English system and my French was so terrible I could barely speak it," Watson said.

"I went to French summer camp for two months and came back and it was great."

A surplus of funds at the EMSB

The school board also boasted having a budget surplus going into the 2015-2016 school year.

During the current academic year each school and centre in the EMSB will receive $20,000 for educational materials and renovations.

"There are very few school boards in Quebec which can boast having available surplus funds that can be reinvested in schools and centres," Mancini said.

The president of the Montreal Teachers Association, Peter Sutherland, said the school boards shouldn't be expected to accumulate surpluses in order to ensure adequate funding.

"The government should provide adequate funds year after year. Having said this, I would hope that a good portion of these monies are invested in directly supporting teachers and students in the classroom," Sutherland said.

with files from Jaela Bernstien and CBC Montreal's Radio Noon